Premenstrual Disorders Are Associated With Increased Risk Of Early Menopause, Study Finds
PMS is often considered "just a part of the process" of being a woman or a person who menstruates. However, more researchers and physicians are starting to speak up on the possible implications of PMS on women's health.
Severe mental and physical health symptoms from PMS are not "normal" and may even be a sign that something else is going on hormonally. In fact, a new study proposes that PMS could be associated with early menopause risk and more severe menopause symptoms.
Severe PMS may increase early menopause risk
A study recently published in JAMA Network found that significantly more women with premenstrual disorders (PMDs) reached menopause at a slightly lower age1 and had more severe menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, also known as vasomotor symptoms (VMS).
PMS vs. PMDs vs. PMDD
Researchers analyzed data from 3,635 women—1,120 of them with PMD symptoms—collected between 1991 and June 2017.
The women with PMDs reached menopause an average of one year before those without PMDs (40.7 years old compared to 41.7 years old), with the age range of menopause onset beginning at 37.3 for those with PMDs and 38.3 for those without it.
Researchers found that women with diagnosed PMDD had a greater risk of early menopause and more severe menopause symptoms as well.
In addition, women with PMDs were more likely to use oral contraceptives. This makes sense, given that some people go on hormonal birth control in the hopes that it will help them manage PMS symptoms.
Now PMDs aren't the only issues thought to possibly influence early menopause, so this finding could have some confounding factors. As the study reads, "Early natural menopause and bothersome vasomotor symptoms (VMS) are challenging issues during menopause transition. PMDs, early menopause, and VMS share risk factors (e.g., childhood abuse, earlier pubertal development, and smoking), suggesting common etiologies."
While researchers don't have an explanation for the correlation just yet, it could have something to do with preexisting hormone levels or imbalances in women, given that PMS is believed to be caused by a dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone2, while menopause symptoms are largely correlated to decreasing estrogen. More research should look into the root cause of both PMS and early menopause to confirm these findings.
Why this matters
While many people brush off PMS symptoms, studies like this remind us that keeping tabs on these symptoms and asking for help when they become severe is essential.
"PMDs may be indicative of underlying physiology linked to early menopause and VMS, suggesting a phenotype observable during the reproductive years that may allow clinicians to target women at risk of earlier menopause and subsequent health risks later in the life course," researchers state.
It's equally critical for health care providers to take PMS symptoms seriously and consider working toward hormonal balance to address the root cause rather than just alleviating symptoms for the time being.
In the same vein, it's worthwhile to consult your health care provider if your mode of birth control isn't working for you. If you're feeling negative physical or mental side effects, speak up—you're certainly not alone, and there are often other options available.
In the meantime, consider looking into PMS supplements or menopause supplements that support your hormones and may be able to help ease discomfort. But don't forget: Bending over in cramping pain and having severe depressive symptoms aren't things women should need to suffer through. They are symptoms that deserve the attention of a health care professional.
A new study found that women with PMDs were more likely to experience early menopause and more severe physical menopause symptoms than women without PMDs. This is an important finding, as it reminds health care providers and patients alike to take PMS symptoms seriously and speak up when something is out of the ordinary—because debilitating PMS is not normal. If you're experiencing menopause symptoms, consult with your doctor before jumping to conclusions, as menopause is commonly misdiagnosed.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including skin care, women’s health, mental health, sustainability, social media trends, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends and innovations, women’s health research, brain health news, and plenty more.